Dead Kennedys and Jello Biafra

LANE: But how’d you know I was me?

DAVE: The Dead Kennedys shirt was a tip off.

LANE: Good thinking. Hey, uh, isn’t it a drag that Jello Biafra isn’t singing for them anymore?

Dead Kennedys, punk rock band formed in San Francisco in 1978 with its classic line-up of Jello Biafra (lead singer), East Bay Ray (guitar), Klaus Fluoride (bass), and D.H. Peligro (drums). One of the defining hardcore punk bands, their lyrics were usually political in nature, satirising political figures, authority, popular culture, and punk itself. From 1978 to 1986 they attracted controversy for their provocative lyrics and artwork. They released four albums and one EP before disbanding acrimoniously in 1986.

Jello Biafra (born Eric Boucher in 1958), former lead singer and songwriter for the Dead Kennedys. In the mid-1980s, Biafra became an active campaigner against the Parents Music Resource Center, a committee formed in 1985 with the goal of increasing parental control over the access of children to music, via labelling music with Parental Advisory stickers. Biafra’s campaigning culminated in an obscenity trial between 1985 and 1986, which resulted in a hung jury.

In 2000, Biafra lost a legal case initiated by his former Dead Kennedys bandmates over songwriting credits and unpaid royalties. In 2001, the band reformed without Biafra. Although Dead Kennedys have continued to perform live over the years, they have not released any new material since the release of their fourth studio album, Bedtime for Democracy, in 1986.

[Picture shows Dead Kennedys in the early 1980s; Jello Biafra is second on the left]

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